Moondarra Studebaker 2019 Pinot Noir
Updated: Sep 6, 2021
When you want to impress a date, there are many ways to do so. I chose to seduce with a bottle of Neil Prentice's Moondarra 2019 Pinot Noir. It's a funky little number, made in Gippsland's mountain district just south of Erica in an unusual way and the results are jolly bloody good. Fair to say Neil Prentice is an unusual man. This is not a standard Victorian Pinot from one of the better known regions but it has personality in every drop.
Named for the 1957 car sold to buy the fence posts for the vineyard, the grapes in this are completely crushed and destemmed before fermentation. Pigeage (the crushing bit) is done by foot through fermentation and then it all goes into big 500L oak puncheons.
Interestingly, they pick small buckets of fruit about a week before harvest and foot-crush them. They are left in various parts of the vineyard to ferment spontaneously. If these ferments are sound, they use them to inoculate the Pinot Noir, harvested a week later. This creates an intense funk to the wine when first opened, but don't be put off. It is very easy to drink, with loads of cherry and red fruit notes like ripe raspberries, with a hint of cranberry and even some cassia bark in the spice profile. It's approachable but also, mildly challenging to a palate more attuned to overly fussed with wines.
The tannin structure is velvety, in part because of the maturation in larger format oak casks over smaller barriques. It is generously textured as well, with a lingering finish dominated by lovely ripe cherry, yet it is also intensely savoury and kinda crunchy.
Neil farms Wagyu beef on the property and makes an interesting collection of biodynamic-like wines, each with the signature funk of a winemaker committed to low interference practice including his Holly's Garden range. He is a well respected winemaker and a terrific bloke to sit around and get pissed with. He is a natural storyteller as well as gifted winemaker, and far from boring. Oh and as for the seduction - let's just say it worked a treat
RRP $38 from smart independents
VIC | 2019 | Gippsland | 12.5% ABV